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Old Barn Tea House, Hildenborough

Description: Old Barn Tea House

Grade: II
Date Listed: 19 February 1990
English Heritage Building ID: 179638

OS Grid Reference: TQ5591648084
OS Grid Coordinates: 555916, 148084
Latitude/Longitude: 51.2107, 0.2308

Locality: Hildenborough
Local Authority: Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
County: Kent
Country: England
Postcode: TN11 9AD

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Listing Text

TQ 54 NE
5/205 Old Barn Tea House

Tea house complex, incorporating a circa early C17 barn, a probably C18
re-sited farmbuilding and a 1930s purpose-built tea room, kitchen and
associated buildings. The tea house was established in 1921 by Commander A.W.
Tomlinson and was developed by him in the 1920s and 1930s. it is still run by
the Tomlinson family. The C17 barn is of framed construction, clad in
weatherboarding with a peg-tile roof. The re-sited farmbuilding is also
framed and weatherboarded with a tiled roof. The 1930s tea room and kitchen
is framed, plastered to the front (north) with some brick nogging,
weatherboarded to the rear with a tiled roof with brick stacks. The
subsidiary 1930s buildings are also framed with tiled roofs.

Plan: A roadside complex, facing north. The tea house was begun in the C17
barn, which is on a north-south axis at the west end of the complex. It is a
5-bay structure with outshuts and full-height threshing doors in the centre of
each long side. The outshuts are used for storage and an office. The east
porch forms a link with the tea room also on a north south axis, adjoining on
the south side. This is a large single-storey room with 5 projecting bays on
each side providing alcoves for tables. At the south end a crosswing
accommodated bands and orchestras. A 2-storey crosswing at the north end,
fronting the road, contains the kitchen. The remodelled C18 farmbuilding
adjoins at the east, adapted for slightly smaller parties and receptions. It
is set back from the road behind 2 single-storey blocks.

Exterior: Long asymmetrical north elevation, set back from the road with a
car park in front. the north end of the barn to the right (west) has a 1920s
gabled porch to the right into the west outshut and 2 3-light 1920s casements
with diamond leaded panes below the original 1920s or 1930s painted sign,
hanging from a bracket. The barn roof is gabletted to the north with a small
half-hip at the south end. To the left (east) is the kitchen crosswing of the
tea room with a hipped roof, gabled and jettied to the front to left and right
with a lateral stack to right of centre. In the centre the first floor
framing has brick nogging in a herringbone pattern. Original 3-light casement
windows, transomed to the ground floor, with diamond leaded panes. To the
left (east) of the kitchen block a single-storey block, parallel to the road
with a matching 3-light casement in the centre. At the extreme left (east)
end a second single-storey block, gable end to the road with a 4-light oriel
window to the right and a 1930s plank door to the left. To the rear (south)
the south end of the C17 barn has a 1920s central doorway flanked by 3-light
casements with diamond leaded panes with a matching 2-light casement above.
The south end of the tea room has a deep hipped roof, end stacks and is gabled
to the south in the centre with a 5-light window with 2 transoms and matching
half-glazed doors to left and right. Some of the projecting gabled bays to
the east and west sides have windows, others have stacks. The re-sited
farmbuilding has a gabled porch on the east side, adapted to form a glazed bay
with diamond leaded panes, and with a stack added at the south end.

Interior: The barn is still open to the roof timbers. The frame has been
repaired but is still largely intact. The roof is a tie beam and crown post
construction, the crown posts tall and plain with 4-way bracing with concave
braces between the jowled wall posts and tie beams. The threshing doors have
similar braces between the wall posts and wall plate. The roof has been
augmented with pairs of straight braces rising from the base of each crown
post to rafter couples. The 1930s carpentry in the tea room is complete. The
re-sited farmbuilding, originating from Old Farmhouse, Philpots Lane (q.v.),
has been floored above tie-beam level. Roof construction not seen at time of
survey (1988) but an examination of the roof might necessitate revising the
suggested dating.

Although the C17 barn is of historic interest in its own right as an early
framed agricultural building, the whole complex if of outstanding interest as
a uniquely well-preserved early C20 tea house designed initially to cater for
a motoring public exploring rural England and seeking country-produced
refreshments. To the west is the farmstead (separately listed) which provided
the home-grown food served in the tea house. In the 1930s the complex was
developed, including an airfield for guests in light aircraft, a swimming pool
and a collection of exotic animals.

In the 1930s Commander Tomlinson established an urban tea house in Maidstone,
'Tudor House', which has been demolished (information from the owners of Old

Listing NGR: TQ5705648135

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.